Utility Realizes Wildlife Outages Can Be Prevented

utility safety Cantega

For as long as the electrical grid has existed, there have been numerous outages caused by wildlife such as birds, snakes, raccoons and squirrels. Because of the costs, impact on reliability and the public relations nightmare, utilities have made every effort to address this problem with limited success. Using everything from generic, multi-fit and field modified covers to a wide array of fencing options, utilities have desperately been seeking an effective solution to mitigate animal-caused outages. There has been a large improvement in protecting the grid and improving reliability through the use of precise-fit covers, designed and manufactured within narrow dimensional tolerances. A case in point is what occurred at a Tennessee utility.

“Birds cause three outages over three days in Brentwood” was the headline in a June 2009 press release issued by Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC). Birds flying into MTEMC's Brentwood Substation, a suburb of Nashville, disrupted power on a Thursday morning, the following Saturday morning, and again the same Saturday afternoon. In each instance, some 6,000 MTEMC members lost power for 20-30 minutes. According to Ken Malone, Electrical Engineering Supervisor at MTEMC, “Like clockwork, the Brentwood substation experienced bird-caused outages every June. In fact, in one three-day span, we experienced three outages—two in one day—and when that happens our CEO gets a call from the Governor.”

"Birds flying into substations are a reality of the electric industry, but for it to happen three times over three days at the same station is highly unusual," said MTEMC's Chris Jones. Following an engineering study, MTEMC tried using other brands of cover up on their at-risk equipment. The products used, however, did not provide an effective level of protection and the bird-caused outages continued. That’s when MTEMC decided to install the Greenjacket solution.

Cantega’s precise-fit cover up, Greenjacket, was selected for its track record of providing a cost-effective and comprehensive solution. This solution combined the use of precise-fit cover up with a site-specific risk assessment. Using photogrammetric imaging, the company developed a detailed site protection plan that outlined how to protect critical equipment and address high-risk contact areas.

“The angle bus within the distribution bay was a unique shape that couldn’t be covered by any other product except Greenjacket,” said Ken Malone with MTEMC. “Since we’ve installed the Greenjacket cover up, we haven’t experienced any outages on the protected equipment. Greenjacket is a high quality product that has won our confidence.”

Greenjacket offers the widest array of cover up available. More than 900 unique molds are inventoried; this allows their project teams to develop a comprehensive, precise-fit solution to prevent bird and animal caused contacts from occurring. Traditional one-size-fits-all products offer limited protection with inevitable gaps in coverage and potential contact areas remaining exposed. These vulnerabilities can lead to bird and animal contacts, resulting in outages and damage to equipment. The company is able to manufacture and supply covers that fit within a tolerance of 1/8 inch, eliminating potential contact points and greatly reducing the risk of outages occurring.  Greenjacket covers are molded of a polyurea material that has been tested to exceed the requirements of the IEEE 1656 Guide for Testing the Electrical, Mechanical, and Durability Performance of Wildlife Protective Devices on Overhead Power Distribution Systems Rated up to 38 kV.  

Cantega Technologies also has the ability to install a wide array of protective products including Greenjacket onto energized equipment. The company has developed a complete set of hot stick tools and Grip-All attachments that are used to install protective covers while systems remain energized. This eliminates the need to schedule expensive and logistically complicated outages to install protective products. Cantega can offer customers the tools and the services to make energized installations an option when mission-critical substations can’t be taken out of service.

Cantega Technologies founder and president Marty Niles said: “The key to preventing animal-caused outages is using a better-fitting product. Ill-fitting covers leave the system susceptible to animal contact and compromise reliability. Greenjacket works because it covers risk points completely and eliminates opportunities for animal contact. Significant cost savings are realized when considering outage-related downtime, costly repairs and the labor involved as a result of a typical bird or animal contact with energized equipment.”           

Part of the success of Greenjacket products is the company’s focus on meeting customers’ specific needs. Cantega’s technicians evaluate customer substation or structure drawings and images to develop budgetary estimates for potential projects. Following the approval of the budget, a site assessment is conducted to determine points of risk and to collect dimensional data by taking images. Using photogrammetry to determine all the necessary dimensions from the collected images, the company is then able to develop a customized site-specific protection plan. This plan includes an itemized list of protective covers and information on installation sequences. Cantega then manufactures the Greenjacket products, ships them to the client, and can either supervise an installation or provide complete installation services.

“By taking effective measures to reduce or eliminate wildlife caused outages, utilities are able to provide their customers with dependable electricity, improving reliability,” Niles said. “Cantega is an effective partner for utilities seeking to deal with these types of outages. They are able to leverage their expertise and knowledge to provide customers with a solution that has been proven over the years to improve reliability.”

For more information about Greenjacket products, please contact Cantega Technologies at 1-877-448-9701 or through its website: www.cantega.com.   

For more information about Cantega or other products, click here to go to Utility Products’ Buyers Guide.

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